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7 Ways to Optimize Your Gmail Ads Campaign

If you want to connect with some of Google’s 1.2 billion Gmail users, you’ll need to bring your A-game. Gmail is the email service of choice for successful professionals and entrepreneurs, and you’ll need more than crisp copy and compelling images to gain their attention.

What are Gmail Ads?

For the uninitiated, Gmail ads are interactive adverts that land at the top of Gmail users’ inboxes. Ads have small yellow squares containing the word ‘Ad’ to differentiate them from actual emails and can include images and videos. Gmail ads can be customized in a variety of ways, such as expanding to full-screen when clicked

How does targeting work?

Targeting helps Google know which ads may be of interest to which users. Targeting helps Gmail users as much as it helps advertisers because it reduces users’ chances of receiving irrelevant ads.

Targeting also helps advertisers get the most bang for their bucks by only sending their emails to users who may be interested in what they are offering.

Contrary to popular belief, Google no longer scans emails for keywords. Instead, it uses a range of data from Chrome, Apps, YouTube, and other services to decide which ads to serve to which users.

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This data indicates people’s habits and interests and helps ensure that they see relevant ads.

How to start a new ad campaign in AdWords

For those entirely new to Gmail ads, here’s what you need to do to get started. Open Google AdWords and log in with your Google Account to access your homepage.

Click on the “Campaigns” tab at the top and then click the “+” button. This action will let you start a new campaign.

First, select a goal for your new ad campaign. You can choose from sales, leads, or website traffic.

You can also choose a campaign goal after you create a campaign. To run Gmail Ads, select the “Display” ad type from the next screen and then select “Gmail Campaign.”

How to create custom ads

Gmail ads are like landing pages onto which you can put multiple images, videos, buttons, and call-to-actions (CTAs). Adding images – or “creatives” – to your Gmail ads will help them appeal to more customers.

There are three ways to add images. You can use Google’s stock images found in AdWords, or have AdWords scan your website to find relevant content, or upload your own images.

Now that we’ve run through the basics of getting up and running with Gmail Ads, here are seven ways to optimize your Gmail ad campaign.

Tip 1. Use A/B testing


Aim to create at least two different ads with different images or media so you can compare how they perform. As Google doesn’t display the quality score for each Gmail ad, it’s recommended to look at your email click-through rates to indicate how well each ad does.

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For example, if you want your ads to generate traffic to your website, use the “Gmail Clicks to Website” metric as the primary way of evaluating the effectiveness of an ad.

This is preferable to using the total number of ‘clicks’, which can be misleading as they may include people who clicked on your ad but then didn’t visit your website.

Rotate your ads for at least one month, or choose the “optimize ad rotation” option. This will give you sufficient data to see which of your ads is performing best, and this will help you make further improvements to your ads in the future.

Tip 2. Use keyword research

Google is pretty big on automation, and the New AdWords will choose keywords for you. However, it also lets you specify which keywords you want to use. That’s why it’s best to conduct your own keyword research and use the results to optimize your ads.

Once you’ve identified keywords that your target audience may be searching for, here’s how to use them to run your campaign:
• Select your campaign.
• Select the ‘Keywords’ tab.
• Delete the audience keywords.
• Add keywords you’d like to target in the Audience keyword targeting section.

You can use A/B testing with two sets of keywords to find which performs best according to the “Gmail Clicks to Website” metric.

Tip 3. Use automated targeting to identify your audience

For your first couple of Gmail Ads campaigns, it’s best to use automated targeting and bidding options. Automated targeting lets Google decide which Gmail users may be interested in your ads.

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The advantage of using automated targeting is that it generates data that you can use to inform your targeting strategy for subsequent Gmail Ads campaigns.

Google will collect data about which users interacted with your ad or website. You can then use Google’s “Remarketing” option to serve ads to these users in the future.

To set up automated targeting, keep your ad campaigns on the default setting – “conservative automation” – when you create a Display Ad. This option will help you get the most out of your first Gmail ads campaign. Simply run your ad(s) to start collecting data.

Tip 4. Use data to identify which type of targeting to use

Automated targeting is great for running your first few ad campaigns. However, as soon as you have enough data to identify your audience, it’s better to turn this default setting off. Conduct your own research, find your audience and start targeting them instead. 

There are three main ways of targeting potential customers with Gmail ads, as follows: 

•  Affinity and Custom Affinity: This is based on people’s browsing habits and interests. 

•  In-Market and Custom Intent: This is based on people’s planning and research. 

•  Remarketing and Similar Audiences: This is based on how people have interacted with your business in the past. 

Once you have enough data to be able to identify your audience, you can use this data to identify which type of targeting to use. 

Tip 5. Identify potential customers by targeting based on habits and interests

To use Gmail Ads to identify potential customers, it is recommended to shift to targeting based on habits and interest. This is known as “Affinity and Custom Affinity” and will let you target people whose interests align with your ads.

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Tip 6. Use In-Market and Custom Intent to capture more customers

Targeting Gmail users based on “In-Market and Custom Intent” is best if you want to capture new customers for your business. Google’s primary advantage here is that it can predict the likelihood of someone making a purchase. 

Here’s how to get started: 

In-Market Audiences

Google can identify potential customers based on people who are actively searching for products or services. For instance, if you are in the travel industry and want to target people looking to book tickets for specific destinations, Google’s “In-Market Audience” for those destinations are usually people who are ramping up to make a purchase.

Custom Intent

Google can also use people’s Chrome history, app installation data, and YouTube signals to create custom-intended audiences for all display ads. AdWords does this automatically for all display ads, but you can do further research to determine which audience will make the most significant impact on your ad campaign. 

Life Events

Life Events are things like getting married, having kids, or buying a home. Google can help identify people who:

• are about to marry or recently got married. 

 • are about to graduate or recently graduated. 

• are about to move or recently moved. 

Choose a type of targeting that fits best with your marketing campaign and business goals. Run the ad campaign to start capturing new leads. 

Tip 7. Move to remarketing once you establish an audience

Once you have established an audience, you can use “Remarketing and Similar Audiences” to optimize your Gmail ad campaigns. Remarketing lets you target people who have interacted with your website, content, or business before.

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They could be visitors to your YouTube channel, website visitors, App users (if you have an app), or simply people on your customer list.

If you already have a high-converting customer base, you can explore “Target Similar Audiences”.

Google will help you find more potential customers who are similar to your current audience. To do this, Google analyses the browsing habits or your existing customers and then finds people with similar profiles.


Gmail ads are one of the most effective ways for any business to capture new leads and clients. The seven ideas detailed above should help optimize any Gmail Ads campaign and succeed. 

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